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Everything posted by Andrew

  1. It's only five episodes, but we're halfway through Lupin on Netflix. It's charming fluff, but not entirely fluff, as it comments subtly on the ingrained racism of European society in its 21st Century take on the gentleman thief.
  2. This writer hits very close to the mark, IMO. Spoilers (and potential triggers) abound. https://www.rogerebert.com/features/on-the-disempowerment-of-promising-young-woman
  3. Still better than Cobra Kai...
  4. Andrew

    La Llorona

    This, alas, is where the rush of end-of-year screeners can alter my judgment of a film. On the strength of a second viewing yesterday, I would've put this on my Best of 2020 list (probably around #7 or 8), rather than relegating it to Honorable Mention. Participants here may also find it of interest as a film featuring answered prayer (which I mention in my review), albeit not in ways that the pray-ers intended. On the strength of this and his first film Ixcanul, I will now watch anything new that Bustamante creates, and I'm eager to track down his second film Tremors, which apparently
  5. I would probably go with Mangrove > Lovers Rock > Alex Wheatle > Red, White and Blue > Education. The first two are definitely superb; Mangrove makes Sorkin's Chicago Seven feel even more hamfisted than it is in actuality. And the camerawork for Lovers Rock is a delight. The last two films didn't fully work for me, with characters that felt more like types than full-blooded human beings. Still, they're definitely worth watching as a whole, for a window into a marginalized community and on the strength of McQueen's craft.
  6. My ability to participate may be quite limited; my wife Jessica has been given a job offer in Washington, so it looks likely that we'll be moving in March, with all that entails before and after.
  7. I delayed watching this since 2 of the 3 responses here were more negative than positive, and I have to say that Russ and Ken are a pair of poopypants. I loved this film's themes of the unreliability (yet, of course, utter necessity) of memory, mixed in with its mother-daughter dynamics. A film that elicits memories of Day for Night and Linklater/Hawke collaborations is also a good thing. And Deneuve is such a delight to watch here, such a subtle communicator of emotional shifts when the scene calls for it. My full review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2021/01/movies-y
  8. This is next on my viewing list. With the screeners for things that were unambiguously movies piling up in December, I put watching this on hold. But now, with all the positive buzz surrounding this, and with my end of year responsibilities behind me, I'm keen to check it out.
  9. Here's mine; I'm curious to see how it compares to others'. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2021/01/the-best-films-of-2020/
  10. I enjoyed it well enough, giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars. The final beat was predictable, and sandstorms have been done to death, but it was a pleasurable diversion. I guess my main complaint is that it felt like a generic Tom Hanks role - good chap who will do the right thing competently, as in Sully or Captain Philips. As such, he looks exactly the same throughout these films, only with different costumes: same worried brow, same urgent verbiage spoken in low tones. I worry that he's becoming the Tom Cruise of middle-aged (and above) viewers.
  11. I didn't care for this either. It felt too glib and simplistic, rather than offering any substance in its examination of toxic masculinity and the enabling of sexual trauma. It didn't surprise me that this is from one of the creators of Killing Eve, as it has that same "aren't we dark and edgy?" smugness to it.
  12. Andrew

    Soul (2020)

    My fellow mental health professionals who are practicing mindfulness-based psychotherapy are gonna eat this up. It's hard to find a film that everyone in my household enjoys, but this was universally loved. Among 2020 films, only American Utopia kept me smiling throughout like this did. I agree with you, Ken, there are some major tonal shifts, from serious to slapstick to contemplative, but they somehow make it work here. Similarly, I dug the music, and there again the shifts worked, from Ross and Reznor's airy, hopeful Great Before music to Jon Batiste's piano playing.
  13. I'm glad you mentioned that, because you're right - and Jessica and I were floundering on what to watch next...
  14. Huh. I've already got a safe dozen for my Best of Year list. But yes, Queen's Gambit definitely merits the praise it's received. Pretty sure it's my favorite new TV that Jessica and I watched in 2020.
  15. My son Jonathan got the family back into D&D over the summer with a handful of one-shot adventures he created. With his move to Arizona to start his Army stint, I stepped into the weekly DM role about 6 weeks ago. We've been having a blast: it's my wife Jessica, my younger son Josh, and two of Jessica's work colleagues via Zoom. While I refamiliarize myself with D&D mechanics (I hadn't DM'd consistently since high school), we're using pre-packaged modules, but that may change with practice.
  16. Andrew


    That ambiguity is a nice touch, isn't it? Freud himself said that human behavior is multfactorial in its motivations. Zhao's script and direction are refreshingly nonjudgmental.
  17. Andrew


    I miss Joel Mayward's presence on the board, as one of the strongest Malick partisans and immense admirer of Zhao's previous film The Rider. I'm guessing he'd have plenty to say about Nomadland. Anywho, this is presently my favorite fiction feature of 2020, as I delighted in its love for its characters, its visual beauty, its humanism. When discussing David Byrne's American Utopia earlier this week, I expressed skepticism that much cinema succeeds in a persuasive function these days. Off the top of my head, I can think of two films in 2020 that changed my mind on a subject (Crazy Not I
  18. Andrew


    As I commented on FB, I LOVE this, and it's very cool to hear the backstory behind this song/video. I'll be looking forward to the Kickstarter info and will happily contribute to your endeavor.
  19. I would hope this is so self-evident that it wouldn't need to be spelled out. See Bill Maher's "comedy." Sure, he's preaching to his choir, but he stopped being edgy or funny long ago. Or the film I watched last night, Uncle Frank. I've loved much of Alan Ball's output (Six Feet Under is one of my all-time favorite TV shows), but while I'm sympathetic to the straits of his main character in his latest (a gay man trying to outrace his homophobic, Bible Belt upbringing), it felt like lazy, cliched filmmaking and storytelling on almost every level. Again, maybe some of this speaks to t
  20. I was probably too broad and nihilistic in my statement, in hindsight. My criticism here is not about the art itself, but about the audience, in 2020. At least in the United States, I perceive such a degree of polarization that opposing sides are talking past each other, with little to no meaningful engagement or persuasion taking place. This isn't to say individuals can't be changed by art, events, or political debate - I'm not the same person I was since reading Baldwin, Coates, and Kendi; one of my family members who voted for Trump in 2016 voted for Biden in 2020 - but it seems like les
  21. But how many people in 2020 are walking away with new convictions from any artistic engagement these days? Hopefully, some - maybe some of the folks here who earlier this year voiced their lack of knowledge on transgender issues have watched one or more of the excellent docs that I've reviewed this year, and come away enlightened. But overall, Republicans have Fox News, OAN, Parler, the Federalist Society, Clint Eastwood, and the legendary auteur Dinesh D'Souza; reality-based individuals get everything else. Maybe this is a sign of the US/Canada difference, but when we've had a Gaslighter-i
  22. Andrew

    Organ Music

    Bravo! I appreciated your introduction to each piece, too - I love knowing the history behind compositions. It staggers the imagination that Demessieux could carry that many pieces around in her working memory; I think she has Rostropovich beaten, who required his students to memorize the concerti assigned to them (as well as all of the orchestral accompaniment). So, do you think Vierne found some peace of mind? Comparing the last two movements to the first two, I'm inclined to say yes.
  23. Haven't read this one - I've read a handful of Millet's novels, and she tells good, spiky, surprising tales.
  24. Nice review - I appreciated your commentary on double-consciousness that runs through the film. I watched this as part of my subscription to the Chicago online film fest, and found it to be a mostly satisfying film, even if it still felt like a stage play with some filmic elements thrown in. I hope both Odom and Ben-Adir get Oscar noms - both actors gave their characters layers of complexity - perhaps even more challenging for Ben-Adir, following as he is in Denzel's footsteps.
  25. That seems reasonable. I still pop in every morning, but the film section has been crickets for quite a while. I suspect you're right, that with COVID our attention has been too divided, with no single movie to home in on since the Dardennes' latest.
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